Samsung just revealed their updated version of the Samsung Gear 360 and it’s a very different beast to the original. They’ve decided to stick with the same name, so for the purpose of this comparison post, we’ll be referring to the updated version as the “new” Gear 360 or the “2017” version.
The new Gear 360 isn’t just an incremental update but in fact a major change in the direction of Samsung’s 360 cameras. The design has been altered to include a handheld friendly body and the software has been amended to include live stream capabilities. Samsung has made clear its intention for the Gear 360 to be a mainstream product rather than a niche gadget for specialists. Samsung is promising a cheaper, easier to use 360 camera that is accessible for all. In order to accomplish this, Samsung has redesigned the Gear 360 from the inside out.
Let’s compare the new gear 360 with the original to see exactly what has changed.
New Samsung Gear 360 (2017) vs Original Gear 360 Comparison Table
|Feature||Gear 360 (New)||Gear 360 (Original)|
|Number of Lenses||x2 8.4 Megapixel f2.2 lenses||x2 15 Megapixel f2.0 lenses|
|Video Resolution||4096 x 2160 at 24 fps "True" 4K||3840 x 1920 at 30 fps|
|Photo Resolution||15 Megapixels||30 Megapixels|
|Memory||256GB external MicroSD||128GB external MicroSD|
|Battery Power||1160 mAh (Samsung claims longer battery life due to power saving design)||1350 mAh|
|Livestream||Yes - 2K video||No|
|Sensors||Accelrometer, Gyroscope||Accelrometer, Gyroscope|
|Compatibility||Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, A5/A7 (2017) running Android 5.0 or later. iPhone 7, 7+, 6S, 6S+, SE running iOS 10.0 or later. PC/Laptops||Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+,|
|Durability||Splash proof, Dust proof||Splash proof, Dust proof|
|Other Features||360 Timelapse Tripod Mount Stabilization Ring||360 Timelapse Tripod Mount|
|Price||Unknown (said to be cheaper than the original)||$349 $229 for Amazon Prime Members|
|Where to Buy||Not yet released (Spring 2017)||Amazon|
As you can see a lot has changed. I’ve summarised what I think the good and bad points are of the redesign:
- Upgrade Video Resolution to 4K
- Change Design to be Handheld Friendly
- Live Stream Capability Added
- Stabilization Added
- Larger Memory Capacity
- Compatible with Many More Devices
- Apparent Longer Battery Life
- Photo Resolution Reduced from 30 Megapixels to 15
- Optics Replaces With Smaller Fish Eye Lenses
Overall it would seem that the new Gear 360 (2017) represents a major upgrade compared to its older brother in terms of number of features, however, the change in optics may spoil the party if it turns out that they take inferior quality 360 images. Never the less, the addition of a live stream feature is long overdue and stabalization (if it works), as well as larger memory capacity, are both very welcome. Whether the handheld aspect makes much of a difference to how the camera is used (I think 360 videos/photos are best shot with a tripod anyway) remains to be seen, but a cheaper price and compatibility with dozens of devices will no doubt attract many new customers to Samsung’s increasing product line.
Some will be disappointed at the reduction in photo size and a merely incremental increase in video resolution, however, if Samsung can deliver this new camera at an attractive price, we may see 360 cameras become a truly mainstream product. This will drive constant improvements in features in the years to come as we have seen in all other mainstream electronic products, but this will only happen if enough people are convinced that 360 cameras are worth trying.
Once I get my hands on the camera (no images or videos shot with the new gear 360 have been released yet) I’ll be able to post some side by side comparisons, so watch this space.
Update: If you want to pick yourself up a bargain, the original Gear 360 is now available at a huge discount on amazon.com – nearly half price in fact. This makes it the best value 360 camera available right now.